House blaze claims the life of 'really decent lady'

MARYANNE TWENTYMAN
Last updated 07:22 23/08/2012
Wai Tangi Matenga
Wai Tangi Matenga

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Police and forensic scientists are investigating a fatal house fire. Maryanne Twentyman reports.

The body of a Hamilton woman who died when fire ripped through her Fairfield home is likely to be removed today.

The blaze also left a child in intensive care.

The Waikato Times understands the woman who died in the fire early yesterday morning was Wai Tangi Matenga, 37, who lived at the Holland Rd house with her two teenage children. Two other children, aged 1 and 4, who also lived at the address, are understood to be the children of Ms Matenga's younger sister, who died about three months ago from a medical condition.

Neighbour Louise MacLeod told the Times she was woken just before 4am by a loud noise and raised voices.

"At first I thought it was people fighting in the street, but then I realised it was more than that," she said.

"I went over and saw the kids out on the front lawn. The older ones had managed to get the children out, but Wai Tangi was still inside."

Ms MacLeod said Ms Matenga's boyfriend arrived at the house a short time later.

"He told me he had gone to the service station because Wai Tangi wanted cigarettes."

Two other teenagers, believed to be friends of Ms Matenga's children, were also at the house. Yesterday, a 15-year-old remained in Waikato Hospital under observation while a 20-year-old was discharged.

Ms MacLeod described her neighbour as "a really decent lady" who had recently started studying.

"She was always good to talk to - a really great person."

But another neighbour, who had lived on Holland Rd since the early 1990s, said there had "often been trouble" at the house over the past year.

Detective Senior Sergeant Karl Thornton, of the Hamilton CIB, said a person's body had been found inside the house after firefighters put out the blaze which gutted the property, believed to be owned by Housing New Zealand.

"As a result an investigation into this unexplained sudden death is now under way," he said.

The body was expected to be removed after a scene examination today.

There have been several house fires in the Fairfield street over the past few years.

A two-bedroom wooden house was badly damaged by fire in July 2010, and another home on the street went up in flames in October 2009.

A section of Holland Rd remained cordoned off yesterday as police and forensic scientists conducted a scene investigation.

Once completed, fire safety officers are to begin their own investigation into the cause of the blaze.

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- Waikato Times

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